freedom, free-will or fate

Free-Will, Fate, and the Spiritual Master

“We do not wish to enter into a consideration of Free-Will, or Determinism. … Among the many reasons is the principle one that neither side of the controversy is entirely right—in fact, both sides are partially right, according to the Hermetic Teachings. The Principle of Polarity shows that both are but half-truths—the opposite poles of Truth. …
“The majority of people are more or less the slaves of heredity, environment, etc., and manifest little Freedom. They are swayed by the opinions, customs and thoughts of the outside world. … They manifest no mastery, worthy of the name. They indignantly repudiate this assertion, saying, ‘Why I certainly am free to act and do as I please—I do just what I want to do,” but they fail to explain whence arise the ‘want to’ and ‘as I please’.” ~The Three Initiates

The Truth of Free-Will

We love to believe we have free-will and can do whatever we want to, but is that really true? If you won millions of dollars in a lottery, would you continue to go to work at the same place and do the same job you do now? If the answer is “No,” as it is for most, than you are not acting according to free will when you get up and go to work. You are doing it out of a feeling of necessity, out of a sense of loyalty to family, or because you were “raised with a work ethic.” None of those reason (and there are more) equate to free-will. If even just occasionally you go to work without truly wanting to, you are not exercising free-will.

Have you ever been on a public beach wearing a bathing suit and felt like pulling the silly thing off and running naked through the waves? Most of us have, but if we don’t actually do it, we are not acting with free will. If we truly had free will, we would do it, but we don’t because social norms, or legal requirements, prevent us from doing so.

Even more that social limits, physical ones prevent us from truly having free-will. We might wish to fly, but it doesn’t happen because of physical limitations. We might wish we were taller, skinnier, prettier, and so on, but our free will doesn’t cause such desires to manifest. So free will exists to some degree, but is limited.

Fate or Determinism

Others believe that we come into this world with a fate. Not just a fate for one or two thing, but virtually everything we do is predetermined.

It may be that most, if not all, of us have a destiny, a primary purpose for our existence here, but not much more than that. I may be destines to be a writer, for example, but not destined to wear the blue tie today, or to buy a particular car. You might say we are destined to follow a particular highway through life, but what we do along the way is generally not fate or destiny.

Free-Will, Fate, and a Master

The Initiates say a master truly has free will, but even that may not entirely be true. The master, or spiritual adept, certainly has more of it than most because she understands how it all works, but she still can’t hold er breath for two hours. And most spiritual schools refer to those students who study hard and become master as the “predetermined”, meaning they were predetermined to become spiritual adepts. So while they may have great freedom after achieving mastership, it was an act of fate that got them there.

spiritual power, Spiritual Science

Yes, Spiritual Science is a real Science

“One of the fundamental principles of true spiritual science is that the one who devotes himself to the study should do so with full consciousness; he should attempt nothing and practice nothing without knowledge of the effect produced. A teacher of spiritual science who gives advice or instruction will, at the same time, always explain to those striving for higher knowledge the effects produced on body, soul and spirit, if his advice be followed. … For only those who know such things as they are here communicated can undertake in full consciousness the exercises that lead to knowledge of the higher worlds. Without the latter no genuine esoteric training is possible, for it must be understood that all groping in the dark is discouraged.” ~Rudolf Steiner

Spiritual Science

That phrase, Spiritual Science, causes many to scratch their heads in confusion, or just shake them in denial. To many, spirituality is either a fraud that has nothing to do with science, or a real thing that is not related in any way to science. Both groups are wrong. Spirituality can be practiced as a science, and should be.

As Mr. Steiner says, those who practice spiritual science should know, as far as possible, what they are in for, and the responsible school or teacher will make sure that the students do know that. He says that the student should not attempt anything without full knowledge of the possible effect of doing so, both positive and negative.

Today many spiritual groups pop up practically overnight who seem more interested in separating people from their money than in any genuine spiritual growth. These groups will usually tell people about wonderful positive things that can happen to them if they practice the spiritual disciplines of the school, but they completely ignore the negative. The result is often that when a student does experience the negative, he quits, or worse.

On the other hand, many of the conventional churches, approved by and often sponsored by the government, are constantly warning of the dangers of developing one’s own spiritual self instead of relying on the priest or minister to do it for you.

A Real Spiritual School

In a real spiritual school that practices and teaches spiritual science, the student is told what positive things will happen, what positive things may happen, what negative things will happen, and what negative things may happen. This is not to scare off students, except those who are not truly serious about spiritual studies, but to prepare them so they can deal with it appropriately.

Suppose, for example, a doctor told a patient with lung problems to move to a drier climate without warning them that such a climate, while good for the patient’s lungs, might dry out the skin. Or one who recommended a person start taking a drug every day for some chronic condition without warning of possible side effects. I would not think much of such doctors, and I have had doctors put me on prescription drugs with no mention whatsoever of side effects.

Both Sides Now

Even worse that those doctors, suppose you were offered an exotic fish in a restaurant, and the waiter assured you that it tasted wonderful, but failed to warn you that if you ate the wrong part, of if the chef didn’t prepare it perfectly, you will become very ill and possibly die from the poison in the fish. You wouldn’t think much of that waiter or that restaurant, would you? The same should be true of a spiritual teacher and school.

So what should we know? The teacher should tell us, on the positive side, that by awakening dormant spiritual faculties, we can become smarter, more creative, more aware, more knowledgeable. He should also warn us that while engaging in spiritual practices, we could be attacked by those dark beings generally called demons who do not want people to advance spiritually or achieve higher states of consciousness. She should tell the students that all of us advance at our own pace so we shouldn’t look at another and judge our results by theirs. He should remind us that innovating is discouraged because it can be dangerous. Of course, we all want to be creative, but don’t try doing things differently without talking with the teacher first. There may be good reasons why that method is not used, namely, it may invite more negative side effects.

So yes, spiritual development, true spiritual development, is every bit as much a science as is chemistry or psychology. Simply because the tools and the practices are different, doesn’t make it not a science.

Eternity and Time

Time, Space and the Timeless World of Spirit

“If the critical point is instantaneous, there would be no beginning, there could be no end. Therein rests an eternity greater than man can otherwise conceive of, for as there is neither beginning nor end, time and space are annihilated. The line that separates the soul that is in the body from the soul that is out of the body is outside of all things. It is a between, neither a part of the nether side nor of the upper side; it is outside the here and the hereafter. …
“Time is not as men conceive it. Man cannot grasp an idea of eternity and retain their sun bred, mourning and evening, conception of time. … Each snap of the life-thread throws an eternity, its own eternity, into eternity’s seas, and each eternity is made up of the entities thus cast from the critical point.” ~John Uri Lloyd

The Paradox of Time

In spiritual writings you will almost always see claims that time doesn’t exist, that both space ans time are illusions, and all that truly exists is eternal spirit. This philosophy creates a paradox, namely: if there is no time and space, how could the Great Fall have happened?

The Great Fall when some of the angels turned away from God and started there own universe of matter could not be eternal, and most spiritual teachers and writers agree that it isn’t. So how could it come into existence from an eternal world of spirit? Continue reading “Time, Space and the Timeless World of Spirit”

Loneliness of individuality

The Loneliness and Joy of Individuality

“Life is an island in ocean of loneliness, an island whose rocks are hopes, whose trees are dreams, whose flowers are solitude, and whose brooks our thirst.
“Your life my fellow men, is an island separated from all other islands and regions. No matter how many are the ships that leave your shores for other climes, no matter how many are the fleets that touch your coast, you remain a solitary island, suffering the pains of loneliness and yearning for happiness. You are unknown to your fellow man and far removed from their sympathy and understanding.…
“Your life, my brother, is a solitary habitation separated from other men’s dwellings. It is a house into whose interior no neighbors gaze can penetrate. If it were plunged into darkness, your neighbors lamp could not illuminate it. If it were emptied of provisions, the stores of your neighbor could not fill it. If it stood in a desert, you could not move it into other men’s gardens, tilled and planted by other hands. If it stood on a mountaintop, you could not bring it down into the valley tried by other men’s feet.
“Your spirits life, my brother, is encompassed by loneliness, and were it not for that loneliness and solitude, you would not be you, nor would I be I. Were it not for this loneliness and solitude, I would come to believe on hearing your voice that was my voice speaking; or seeing your face, that was myself looking into a mirror.” ~Kahlil Gibran

The Power and Joy of Loneliness

Loneliness is a negative thing to many. That think it means you have no friends, no loves, no one who cares about you. But the way Gibran is using the word here, he simply means that we are individuals and one thing we all have in common is both the joys and terrors of being individuals. Continue reading “The Loneliness and Joy of Individuality”